Hiking, Cancer Advocacy and saying NO!

I started my hiking/backpacking adventures as well as my cancer advocacy right about the same time in 2014.

When I first started hiking  …..I did it because I wanted to.  I saw a mountain….I wanted to climb it and I knew that getting outdoors in nature would help, as I healed and learned to live with cancer.

14,581 feet up in the air. Summit of Mt. Whitney

When I first started advocating within the metastatic breast cancer community.  I did it because I felt like I had a voice and a platform on which to share my own personal experience with the disease and how I thrive.

My MBC mentor and hero…Jill Cohen.

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My first year of hiking consisted of me taking on every challenge that was out there ….  #52hikechallenge  #6packofpeaks  I saw a mountain…I wanted to conquer it.  I lived and breathed the confrontation of elevation and altitude.

My first year of advocacy I took on writing and speaking and everything else that came across my path that lended itself to sharing my story and that of others who also lived with metastatic breast cancer.

Then….

a year came and went…..

and 2016 happened.

My friends started dying from cancer.   My biggest loss, was that of my mentor and friend, Jill Cohen.  (I still cry when I think about her….I miss her so much)

And hiking was becoming more of a chore than enjoyable.

So,  as is my disposition when things start to feel like work…I take a step back and assess my motivation in why I do what I do.

I didn’t hike as much, and picked up adventures that only felt good to me, that were fun and enjoyable… like my trip to Havasupai.

and camping around Iceland.

and my advocacy changed to combining my love for the outdoors to being a co founder of what is now an annual event.  The Make Moves Climb for a Cure.  

I stopped all striving and just doing hiking and advocacy the way that made me feel alive,  and allowed me to be me.

This year….I started hitting the trails again hard with no goals…just doing what I love.  And that usually ends up with me doing something new….like my first SOLO overnight backpacking trip.

Or revisiting mountain tops because I want to, not because I am training for something.    And I even found myself an outdoor mentor who is a 61 year old bad ass woman.

And my advocacy picked up a bit, as I was part of big new cancer drug launch with Novartis and asked to write for various publications including WEB MD.com.

BUT I was recently shamed…not on purpose,  on how my decision to not do a part of a trail because I  was exhausted,  was “jokingly?” referred to  as pussy footing.

And another round about comment on how  my advocacy for metastatic breast cancer isn’t really advocacy if I am not always complaining on how I might die….blah blah blah.

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This morning on my Instagram feed, I read a post by another hiking chick, on how she last minute pulled out of her hike to summit Mt. Whitney, because as she put it….she wasn’t feeling it and it felt like work to get there.  She felt bad but knew the decision to back out was the “right” one for her, even if she might have disappointed some other hiking buddies.

I applauded her bravery.  

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So why do I do  what I do?   I do it for  my own personal  love for outdoor adventure.  I do it because I believe people want to hear happy stories about thriving with metastatic cancer…and not always about the dying part.

I will continue to  hike and backpack  on my terms and not be persuaded otherwise, and I am stepping out of metastatic breast cancer advocacy for a season (with the exception of the annual climb for a cure) …and stepping into cancer advocacy in general with an emphasis on thriving through outdoor activity.

You see…this is my life.  Not anyone else’s.

With love and adventure,

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6 thoughts on “Hiking, Cancer Advocacy and saying NO!

  1. Wow my friend – you just continue to amaze me!! What you do, how you do it, all with such a zeal for life! Wonderful post!!

  2. As a fellow stage 4 thriver, I’m so thankful you don’t talk about dying!!! Yes, we may have an idea of what we may die from but we aren’t dying today!!!

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